With Sunday's win over the Thrashers, the Carolina Hurricanes completed their 41st game and officially made it half way through their season. At that point, they found themselves in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 46 points, sitting just three points out of the cherished eighth spot which is where they need to be if they want to be in the playoffs.
Let's take a quick look at a few of the team's key statistics and compare this year's results so far, (as of 41 games), with the last two years.
Of course, last season was a disappointing one and the team should certainly be shooting for better results this year. But 2008-09 was a successful season in which the team finished sixth in the conference and went on to play for the Prince of Wales Trophy.
If we annualize the mid season results and compare them with the previous two years, the results are pretty much as you would expect. The team is on pace to do better than last season, but not quite as well as the season before.
Although regarding goals for, "GF", the Canes are on pace to score 242 goals. They scored 239 in 2008-09.
If the team can improve it's second half from it's first half, the playoffs are more than attainable.
Now let's check out some individual statistics, from the top to the bottom of the stat page:
|2010 - Eric Staal||41||20||21||41||-4||34||7||1||4||153|
Staal is on pace for a 40 goal, point a game season. If he does finish with 82 points, that would tie the second highest point total of his career. Considering he has played with a multitude of linemates, some better than others, he has performed consistently. Sometimes he can get frustrated and take a bad penalty, but for the most part it's hard to argue with his game. Grade A
|2010 - Tuomo Ruutu||41||10||23||33||-2||28||5||0||1||73|
Ruutu has played different positions on different lines and is on target to smash his previous career high of 54 points. He is also second in the league with 159 hits. Can you ask much more of him? Grade A+
|2010 - Jeff Skinner||41||14||18||32||0||12||3||0||1||105|
Skinner has been the surprise of the season and leads all rookies in the NHL with 32 points. If he has a second half of the season like he did the first half, he will win the Calder. He's improving on defense every game. All this at 18 years old? Grade A
|2010 - Jussi Jokinen||35||6||20||26||-1||12||3||0||0||67|
Jokinen won't match his magical 30 goal season from last year, but he has almost surpassed his stats from the year before when he had 7 goals and 20 assists for the Lightning and Canes in 71 games. After a slow start and a demotion to the fourth line, he came on strong before his injury and was second on the team in scoring. Grade B+
|2010 - Erik Cole||41||11||10||21||8||23||2||1||4||93|
Cole has worked his way up to fifth on the team in scoring and now leads the team with a plus/minus +8. He's been a good mentor for Skinner and is on pace to play more games than he has since the 2003-04 season. Grade B+
|2010 - Joe Corvo||41||6||12||18||-6||14||2||1||0||75|
Corvo leads the defense with 6 goals and has been a big minute cruncher recently, but he still can be less than consistent at times in his own end. He's performed more or less as expected. Grade B-
|2010 - Joni Pitkanen||34||2||16||18||7||32||0||0||0||65|
Pitkanen leads the defense with a plus/minus +7 and has the most assists on the blueline. Again, he's a minute muncher when he's healthy and has also probably performed pretty much as expected. Grade B-
|2010 - Sergei Samsonov||37||8||9||17||1||8||4||0||0||58|
Samsonov's play has been inconsistent and he's been moved all over the lineup, fourth line to first line and back. But his numbers are not too far off from his career averages. Grade C
|2010 - Chad LaRose||41||7||8||15||-7||28||0||1||0||98|
LaRose has been another inconsistent performer, on the scoreboard anyway. He's in the midst of a slump and has few points in the last 20 games. While Samsonov has a plus/minus +1, he is -7 and he's taken some bad penalties lately while always being in the top nine. Grade C-
|2010 - Patrick Dwyer||41||7||7||14||-1||8||0||1||2||63|
Dwyer has already posted career best numbers and seems to keep improving the more he plays. He has two game winning goals, a shorthanded tally, and has been solid on the penalty kill. All this at a fraction of the cost of some of the other players. Grade A
|2010 - Brandon Sutter||42||7||7||14||8||10||1||0||2||68|
Sutter was fighting an injury earlier in the season and his offensive production has dropped off from where it was last season. Still, he remains one of the best defensive forwards on the team and he is starting to get some recognition as being one of the best in the league. His plus/minus is always among the best on the team. Grade C+
|2010 - Jamie McBain||41||1||13||14||4||22||0||0||0||45|
McBain had a slow start but has come on pretty strong in the last month or so. In this, his first full season in the NHL, there were lofty expectations but it's hard to complain too much about the rookie's game as he learns the ups and downs of life in the big league. Grade B-
|2010 - Ian White||40||2||9||11||-6||10||1||0||0||70|
White has been an upgrade to Babchuk in the Carolina zone, but he has also had some ups and downs. There have been a variety of opinions whether the Canes should bring him back again next season and if he is worth his $3 million salary. The jury is still out. Grade C+
|2010 - Tim Gleason||42||2||9||11||-2||45||0||0||0||44|
Gleason is known as the "shut down" guy on the Carolina blueline and faces the other team's best every night. That's not an easy task and the defenseman has had his good moments and bad so far this season. There has also been some question of his health, although he has played every game to date. Has he performed up to expectations? Grade C+
|2010 - Jay Harrison||40||1||4||5||-1||39||0||0||0||26|
Harrison will never be mistaken for a first pairing guy, but he has served his role well and has been worth every penny of his salary so far this season. Grade A
|2010 - Cam Ward||35||2019||18||11||88||2.62||1140||1052||.923||2|
Ward has been brilliant more nights than not and has seen more shots per game, (average of 32.6), than any other goalie in the league. He's even improved his career shootout save percentage. Grade A
I'm not grading the players who have not played as much, like Zach Boychuk, Zac Dalpe, Ryan Carter, Troy Bodie, Justin Peters, etc. In most cases, they have performed to expectations.
Paul Maurice and coaching staff:
Player development has been pretty good. Both Jamie McBain and Jeff Skinner have improved since the start of the season. He's done a pretty good job of moving Skinner around, to protect him. The lines have been shuffled a lot, perhaps too much so. Special teams need to improve.
Bottom line, if you feel the team has performed at or above expectations, he probably deserves a B, if you feel the team should be doing better, he deserves a C or less.
Jim Rutherford and management:
Once again, Rutherford pulled the right strings at the right time and traded Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos for Ian White and Brett Sutter. White was an immediate upgrade in the backend and the team has gone 12-6-6 in the 24 games since the trade. While -10 in Calgary, the defenseman is +4 for the Canes. Sutter could still work out to be an asset in the future.
The acquisitions of Troy Bodie and Ryan Carter might even be more significant as they added some much needed grit and size to the team.
The GM still has some work to do though as it's becoming evident that Boychuk and Dalpe should be playing for the Canes. Since there is no room for them when everyone is healthy, some more moves will have to be made. Also, what will management do at the trade deadline? Interesting days are ahead. Considering he has had a strict budget to follow, I'll give him a Grade A.
I based my grades upon expectations and results, as well as value for salary. Maybe I'm too easy of a grader, what do you think? Am I offbase with anyone? Correct me if I'm wrong in the comments and give your own grade in our poll.